Get ready to return to Wakanda.
London-based Titan Publishing is embarking on an exploratory expedition into the depths of Black Panther with a fresh prose novel unleashed this week titled Who is the Black Panther? This tie-in tale treks deeper into the origins, legacy, and motivations of the legendary King of Wakanda in a powerful 368-page literary strike by the award-winning AP journalist and author Jesse J. Holland. It's adapted from a 2005 Black Panther graphic novel collection by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.
“It was the culmination of a lifelong dream for me,” Holland told The Washington Post. “I’ve always wanted a chance to help mold some of the great Marvel superheroes, and to do that with the Black Panther, one of the first comic book characters I ever read, was incredible.”
Extracting plot mechanics from Hudlin's excellent 2005-2008 run on Marvel's Black Panther, Holland's African adventure spotlights the techno-science kingdom of Wakanda and its regal warrior king T'Challa as he fends off Nigandan invasionary forces led by M'Butu, Ulysses Klaw, The Rhino, and the chivalrous Augustine du Lac, aka Black Knight.
Black Panther must rally his warriors to protect his precious country's rare Vibranium riches and seek revenge for Klaw's greed-fueled killing of his father, T'Chaka.
Back in February, Titan released a sumptuous concept art book, Black Panther: The Official Movie Special, which contained 96 pages of dynamic behind-the-scenes images, cast and crew interviews, and revealing info on exactly how hundreds of illustrators, modelmakers, painters, and artists brought the acclaimed film to life.
This new novel is the second paperback out of the gate for Titan's new nine-book alignment with Marvel Studios. The first was April's Avengers: Everybody Wants To Rule The World from comic superstar Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Warhammer 40K), kicking off seven-month release schedule during which canonical prose novels will re-introduce fans to Captain America, Deadpool, Ant-Man, Venom, Dark Phoenix, and Spider-Man.
The fantastic Titan-Marvel fiction team-up will also include reissues of iconic and out-of-print titles all intended to enrich the classic superhero tales for a new generation.
Check out an excerpt below.
Excerpt from Who Is The Black Panther?, from Titan Publishing. In stores now.
Who Is The Black Panther?
THE WIND whistled around the Black Panther’s armor as he pushed his skybike faster and faster toward Niganda and M’Butu’s palace. The day promised to be hot and bright, with few clouds in the sky. The houses and fields of Wakanda rushed by below him as his bike shrieked through the sky. Although he continued to monitor the different battles taking place in the kingdom through his helmet-comms, T’Challa felt grateful for a few moments of solitude to ponder the previous night’s happenings.
The king could see oily black smoke rising in front of him, where Wakandan ground and air forces had engaged not only the regular invading Nigandan armed forces, but also the pair of super-powered mercenaries hired by M’Butu to escort his troops into Wakanda.
The armored Rhino and the zealot Black Knight, flying astride a winged horse, were the vanguard of Niganda’s invasion, sent to disrupt Wakanda’s defenses and distract from the second strike: the missile that had delivered the deadly Radioactive Man to the Great Mound, the country’s sole source of Vibranium.
T’Challa had yet to figure out why M’Butu and Klaw—the hidden hand behind the day’s activities—wanted the Radioactive Man inside the Great Mound. Perhaps he planned to irradiate the mountain, making it harder to mine and throwing Wakanda’s economy into turmoil? It wasn’t a strike against the royal family, which T’Challa expected was Klaw’s main goal. The fact that Princess Shuri had spent the night in the Vibranium mines and was now trapped in there with the Russian was an awful coincidence, not a well-thought-out plan. No one, not even T’Challa, could have predicted that his little sister would disobey his direct commands and enter the mines on a scientific inquiry—assisted by his own Dora Milaje, at that! No, T’Challa thought as he redlined his skybike’s engine, there had to be more to this attack than was immediately apparent.
They had yet to see Klaw himself. M’Butu was a brute and an opportunist, but he was no strategic mastermind. The true opponent had yet to rear his head, and so the Black Panther must force his hand, T’Challa thought grimly.
So deep was T’Challa’s concentration, he almost missed the alarm beeps from his proximity scanners, warning him to change trajectories. He leaned over the side of his craft to see what could possibly be approaching him from that angle. Then he saw it.
“Blood of the Panther God!” T’Challa swore, immediately putting hisbike into a power dive. A refrigerator hurtled over his head, followed quickly by the matching freezer.
The Rhino must be close by, T’Challa thought—and frustrated that the Quinjets sent to slow him down were staying out of his reach. T’Challa banked his skybike toward the ground. Time to end the man’s rampage. A few seconds later, T’Challa was skimming the treetops, trying to get an idea of the tableau beneath him. He adjusted his helmet-comm to the pilots’ frequency. They cursed as they bobbed and weaved their jets, trying every trick they could to push back the Rhino and dodge the Black Knight’s attacks.
The two Quinjets assigned to stop the Rhino had the super villain pinned down in a suburban cul-de-sac. The tasteful, middle-class homes had been evacuated, and the jets had opened up their guns in an attempt to keep the Rhino from advancing farther. The asphalt road leading into the circular street was now pockmarked with holes.
The pilots—Sharifa and H’Rham—had achieved minor success, but the Rhino had taken shelter from their bullets inside a three-car garage. Frustrated with the pilots, the Rhino had started bombarding them with anything he could get his hands on. That explained the flying refrigerator and freezer.
“Whoops, here comes the kitchen sink!” H’Rham joked, pushing his smoking plane higher into the air to dodge another missile from the Rhino. The villain roared up at the planes, then retreated again to the ruins of the house.
“Pay attention, idiot!” Sharifa, the other pilot, chastised him. “Flying horse at your six!”
Her Quinjet banked hard, targeting the flying animal and its rider with a barrage of bullets. The horse gracefully dodged and weaved, but the maneuver forced the Black Knight far enough out of range that he could not strike at either jet. The air was clear for the moment. The pilots put their Quinjets in hover-mode and circled the cul-de-sac. They opened fire on the Rhino’s hiding spot, shredding the walls around him in an attempt to draw him out.
T’Challa, however, had a better plan. “Pilots, this is the Black Panther,” he radioed. “Use your missiles to deny him his hiding spot. I’ll take it from there.”
“Yes, sir,” Sharifa called back, pulling her jet back up in the air to line up a shot. “Missile locked and away!”
The explosion collapsed the roof of the Rhino’s house, forcing him to stumble out into the driveway to avoid the falling debris. As soon as he saw the armored man, T’Challa began his bombing run, toggling a special missile to readiness as he dived out of the air.
The Rhino just laughed as T’Challa’s skybike swooped toward him between the two Quinjets.
“You got something for me, kitty-cat?” The man pounded his chest. “Bullets can’t hurt me; missiles only slow me down. As the kids say: What you got, comrade?”
T’Challa smiled under his mask. “Sleeping gas.”
A specially tipped missile streaked out from under his skybike and exploded on the ground in front of the Rhino. T’Challa aimed his skybike back up into the air as a green-tinted cloud billowed out and enveloped the man. The two Quinjets maneuvered around the Rhino, using their horizontal flight stabilizers to keep the gas cloud swirling around the staggering villain. T’Challa banked and looked back down to see the Rhino with his
hands around his throat, slowing falling to one knee. “Unfair,” the man choked as he tried to stand and stagger his way out of the gas cloud. “That’s—that’s…cheating.”
“As the kids say: Tough,” T’Challa said quietly. He watched the man faceplant on the ground.